UPDATE – here’s an open letter I’ve written to Mark Zuckerberg about this:
Just what is it about political satire that seems to get up the nose of those in positions of power?
Yesterday Facebook suddenly decided to flag this blog as spam – effectively censoring it by scaring away anyone who might want to link to it or share it on Facebook.
That was obviously a surprise but I was even more surprised when a member of staff from JobCentre Plus openly boasted to me that it was she who had reported the blog to Facebook as spam after she got annoyed by this particular satirical blogpost critical of ATOS and the DWP:
It’s obvious even from the headline that the article is pure satire – not spam – but it seems Facebook automatically took the word of a member of staff from JobCentre Plus and dutifully flagged it – and indeed this whole site – as one that should be avoided.
What is it about satire they don’t like so much? Is it the fact that it not only criticises those in power but makes fun of them too? Or is it that Facebook can’t stand the fact I do it for free – so making a nonsense of any future business model they may have which charges for content?
Last year I had to fight with 3UK to stop them flagging this site as porn (believe it or not) and now I’ve got bloody Facebook treating it as spam just because someone from a government organisation doesn’t like to be criticised.
Censoring political satire is a very dangerous game for Facebook to be playing and – even if it turns out to have been a mistake – automatically blocking links to websites on the word of someone working in a government department is a real threat to freedom of expression and speech.
Satire is a very old and time-honoured method of criticising those in positions of power and we allow powerful organisations like Facebook to casually block access to it at our peril.
SECOND UPDATE – today I’ve been getting reports that other websites which have been critical of DWP, ATOS and JobCentre Plus are also being flagged as spam by Facebook too. Strange.
Someone has kindly set up a Facebook page to try to persuade Facebook to delist this site as spam – hoping that if enough people complain to Facebook they’ll change their mind.
So if you’re on Facebook, please do me a favour and visit the page, press ‘like’ and share it with friends:
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